As Cyber Monday was wearing down, Google was already winding up some app updates. A new version of Gboard began rolling out late in the afternoon, and with it comes the long-anticipated handwriting support, meaning we can finally uninstall the separate handwriting keyboard. There are also some tweaks to the emoji picker. As we look to the teardown, there are signs of a new theme system with a few new options for more visual control, a new autospace feature, integration with the Motion Stills app, and more.
The ability to change the appearance of the Android system has always been missing from stock Android, with the exception of the Overlay Manager Service, which is only configurable through the use of third-party tools like Substratum. This somewhat changed with the Pixel 2, where the quick settings dropdown and launcher would switch between light and dark themes based on the user's wallpaper.
If you're a Telegram user (hi), then you'll understand how cool this latest news is. The privacy-focused messaging service is finally getting custom theme support on Android, which is just fantastic. You have three basic ones to start, and one of those is a dark theme.
Opera and all of its entities have always been red. That's part the company's logo and visual identity, so it's quite interesting that the latest update to Opera Mini's beta app has added colored themes, allowing you to change the tone and look of the app to suit your preference.
The theme pop-up will show the first time you launch the app, but it can also be found under Settings > Theme. Six colors are available to choose from, including Opera's famous red as well as green, blue, purple, grey-blue, and black. All colors are very Material Design-inspired or friendly if you will, being bold but not excessively so.
Android's notification system has gone through some pretty intense work since the start of the platform, but that doesn't mean that third-party developers can't improve it even more. Case in point: Floatify, a customization app that's been floating around (sorry) for the better part of two years. The latest version is number ten, and it adds a couple of features from the new Android N Developer Preview. If your device isn't invited to play with the Nexus crowd (or you just don't want to deal with the instability), you can back-port some of those neat touches.
You've decorated your house, you've put on a festive watch face, you can't help but see red and green Christmas stuff everywhere you go, so what about decorating your phone's messenger app? After all, this is probably the thing you look at most during the day, so adding some jolly good spirit would go a long way in making the holiday charm follow you all the time. Facebook agrees and so it has updated its Messenger application with lots of customization options and some end-of-year themed options.
Version 1.40 of YouTube Kids, Google's way of getting your children hooked on video clips from a young age, doesn't want any youngster missing out on what's going on outdoors. Encouraging them to look away from the screen would be too risky, so instead YouTube Kids now has a winter-themed homescreen. Look at the snow, and imagine the cold.
In version 39, Chrome for Android learned an awesome trick: using a simple HTML tag, any webpage could tell Chrome to theme its UI (and your device's status bar) with a specified color. The downside to this feature was that it only worked if tabs and apps were "merged," meaning your Chrome tabs would show up inline with your recent apps, rather than relying on Chrome's own in-app tab switcher.
Today, a Chrome for Android developer at Google let Reddit know that the theme-color attribute will soon make Chrome snazzy even if you don't have tabs and apps merged. Right now the flag (chrome://flags/#enable-theme-color-in-tabbed-mode) will only work in Chrome Dev 47.0.2516.0 (available from the Play Store or APK Mirror), and support isn't complete yet - the flag won't allow Chrome to theme your status bar and swiping across the toolbar to switch tabs is a little glitchy, for instance.
With the official stable release of Android Studio v1.3 a couple of weeks ago, it's time to begin testing the next string of new features. The first preview release of version 1.4 is now in the Canary channel, and it's sporting some big new features. The Android Tools team has been working on the new theme editor first demonstrated in the I/O session titled What's New in Android Development Tools. There are also new performance monitors for GPU and network activity, a vector asset wizard for turning SVG files into XML vector drawables, and a few new lint checks.
Here is the Google I/O session video cued up to the beginning of the theme editor demo at 36 minutes:
The new theme editor examines the styles in a project and displays visual samples of what controls should look like on a live interface.
Last week, there was a kerfuffle online about a couple of themes developed by an XDA member for the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge that aimed to bring a more authentic Material look to Samsung's devices. Said themes were approved then suspended by the company, supposedly because of copyright infringements over the wallpaper and icons, but the developer fixed those issues and has resubmitted them.
In the meantime, another Material theme was approved and went live today in the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge's Theme Store.